Executive Synthesis: Tourism, Heritage Tourism, And Enhancing Knowledge of Route 66 Tourism
Publication Year: 2018

Executive Synthesis: Tourism, Heritage Tourism, And Enhancing Knowledge of Route 66 Tourism


Listokin, D., Lahr, M., Heydt, C., Berger, J.,& Schkrutz, E. (2018). Study Prepared for the National Park Service an Pby Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.

The famed Route 66 travels about 2,400 miles through eight states (running east to west): Illinois (IL), Missouri (MS), Kansas (KS), Oklahoma (OK), Texas (TX), Arizona (AZ), New Mexico (NM), and California (CA).  This study by Rutgers University first examines tourism and heritage tourism in the eight Route 66 states, including the significant economic impacts from such travel activity. Tourism associated with Route 66 is one component of both the total travel and heritage travel in the eight Route 66 states. It would be helpful to better understand and quantify the specific Route 66 travel and a possible strategy for realizing that is considered in a reconnaissance fashion by the current Rutgers investigation. Our three major findings are:

  • One — The eight Route 66 states comprise a colossal travel market, collectively accounting for about 30 percent of the huge entire United States travel activity and attendant positive tourism-related economic impacts. In 2015, the eight states collectively captured $289 billion in travel expenditures, which supported 2.4 million jobs with $73 billion payroll, and generated $44 billion in taxes ($24 billion federal, $13 billion state, and $7 billion local government).
  • Two — Heritage tourism, one aspect of Route 66 travel—is an important and growing share of the travel market. A conservative (lower threshold) estimate in 2015 of spending that is directly related to heritage travel in all the eight Route 66 states is $14.5 billion. Using a Preservation Economic Impact Model (PEIM) developed by Rutgers for the National Park Service, we can quantify the total (direct and multiplier or secondary) significant impacts of the $14.5 billion heritage travel spending in the Mother Road states on the national and state economies with respect to jobs, income, wealth creation (Gross Domestic Product—GDP) and economic activity (economic output). These impacts are:
  • Three — It would be advantageous to regularly secure specific Route 66 traveler information (e.g., traveler numbers, origin, profile, and spending), however, that information is currently unavailable. With better information, much could be learned, such as how to attract more tourism on the Mother Road and to quantify the economic contribution of the specific Route 66 travel (as was done with the PEIM concerning heritage travel in the eight Route 66 states).To further this goal, Rutgers has identified in a reconnaissance fashion a number of ways to ascertain Route 66 traveler data from ongoing surveys done for state tourism departments and related purposes by professional firms highly respected by the travel industry. These include:
    1. Kantar TNS and its TravelsAmerica survey.
    2. MMGY Global and its Portrait of the American Travelers
    3. D.K. Shifflets and Associates (DKSA) and its regular travel surveys For example, the TravelsAmerica survey has a long list of “trip activities” (e.g., “visit museums, historic sites, and national parks”). If “visit Route 66 “could be added to this list of trip activities, then specific Mother Road travelers could be identified with respect to origin, household profile, trip spending, and other characteristics. Rutgers reconnaissance discussion with Kantar, MMGY and DKSA indicates a real possibility of gleaning Route 66 travel information from their survey activities and this warrants further investigation by the Route 66 community.

Subject Areas

Urban Policy